Tuesday, November 30, 2010

New Routes and ski touring in the NW

Whilst there is less snow in the NW than in the Cairngorms (it has mostly come in on a NW -W wind) there is still snow down to the road and waist deep drifts in places.
I have been out and about ski touring on my local hills where i met a very friendly shire horse who seemed very curious as to what we were doing and followed us some distance up the hill! The snow was quite tricky to ski as the consitancy was quite variable as it has been blown around a lot. We avoided steep westerly aspect slopes as they had large areas of nasty windslab

With the low snow level and unuasal cold (-14c last night) some interesting places have come into condition. I was climbing with Roger (master of the mono) Webb on the South face of Stac Pollaidh where we made the first winter ascent of 'Enigma Variations' which was in turn very delicate and very hard and very fierce and very hard!

It looks like this weather will continue till at least the weekend and probably beyond.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Lots of Snow...

I can't get iphone 4 pictures onto the blog i'm afraid. Here is a picture taken at the bottom of the Shelter Stone on Wednesday; it was snowy then and i think that it will be snowier now. The roads in the NW and Cairngorms are still passable and the ski road was open today. A lot of new snow is falling now (on a strong due NE wind i think) and this will probably change the situation. There will be a higher avalanche risk this weekend as there is a lot of fresh snow falling and then being transported on this strong wind. Check the SAIS website as they are now doing weekend updates.
I'm not sure yet where i am heading i the next few days, probably west where walking will be easier but i may go and have a look at all the snow chaos for the fun of it! Interestingly i've already had several ski touring enquiries (even though slacker that i am i haven't fixed that section of the website yet). Here is hoping that it will be another snowy winter on the planks.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

NW and Caingorms

The bare hills of the NW are now sporting a lovely new snowy coat and good conditions have returned to many mixed venues. It is currently snowing lightly down to sea level up here. The cairngorms however are bearing the brunt of this new snow with large accumations coming in the next couple of days.
Yesterday I was in the Loch Avon basin and found travel and climbing very slow and laborious in the unconsolodated snow but noted that the ski touring was looking good (right place wrong kit!). On the walk out we met up with a friend who was attempting to walk across the cairngorm platea without a map and compass, he very nearly made it but after he sent me a txt saying "I don't know where I am we found him only 200m from the top of the goat track! So close and yet so far!
I am experimenting with a new iPhone at the moment and am trying to type this blog with it (I will try and add a photo later). The gps and a loaded section of an os map bought in iPhone apps made navigating in a White out in blizzard in the dark almost child's play. I was very impressed and so was my friend when we found him!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Winter 2010 / 2011

Ok, time to brush off the keyboards and start the blog back up. I'll aim this winter for about 2 posts a week giving general conditions reports mainly for the NW but as i climb all over the Highlands there will be reports from the Cairngorms and the West Coast also.
It looks like this is the real start to the winter now, rather than just a single snow fall followed by rain the next week. On the whole things have started well with much of the NW frozen before the snow fell. There have been regular top ups of snow every few days above about 700 ish m and rocky mixed crags that don't get the sunshine up high have had great early season conditions.
I have been out on Beinn Eighe and various 'secret' locations in the NW doing new mixed routes. It is a great time at the moment in the hills; the light is fantastic and with the echoing sound of the stags engaging in their courtship rituals make the whole place very atmospheric.
The temperature today has briefly gone up to the top of the hills but will come back down and thus consolidate what we have so far.
It looks like we will have good conditions for the next week at least and i hope to be taking full advantages of these this weekend.